Trying on clothes,
the silk pattern I felt right
for a Hopi wedding,
should I ever be invited
to another one,
cups beneath my butt,
as so many things do these days.
Purchased in Phoenix for a $20 dollar bill,
It looks like a sarong but
underneath it is stitched in place.
I’ve got a thing for silk sarongs,
a soft drape next to my skin.

A black cat drapes
across the sofa,
I am wearing my latest
cheap black skirt,
which I bought for swish of its hem,
and its deep pockets, as well.

The stories our clothes
could tell,
of female tenacity
of what is true that cannot die.

That Phoenix winter
I bought a lot of skirts
“I wish somebody loved me better skirts,”
I called them at the time,
a dozen or so by the same name.
And my “she won’t be coming back jacket,”
a title I stole from an art piece I saw.
Shoes were titled then too,
shoes which today I confess
have gotten too small,
as so much has
for my profoundly voluptuous body.

At least in all this letting go,
I’ve gotten my humor back,
and not a minute too soon.

I like to think of my flesh
as a song with many choruses,
the way Lucille Clifton
standing full and proud at the podium
made me stand up again in who I am.

What shabby man was it anyway
who made me start doubting
my own material form,
who drove me to buy more skirts
than I need.
Who made me think that to continue
to live was a failure of sorts,
like I should have died at twenty-three
when I had what my husband
admired as perfect breasts,
breasts that had not yet served
any function, except to please.

I could have done better I’m sure
but exactly how much is hard to tell.
These days I keep trying on clothes,
I know other women don’t have to so much,
the ones who seem to stay the same,
the ones who pass through
the Great Divide,
a single inconvenience in an afternoon.
What is it that makes women like that
and why have I never lived
the life of one of them?

Older women talk of things I never knew,
of how they haven’t worn
a sleeveless shirt in years,
who would have known
we had to prepare for that?
I am trying on clothes,
this month the ankle-length
button-up-the-front green
is beginning to bulge at the bust.
And the two-piece bold print cotton,
which frankly I’ve always been
ambivalent about is bulging as well.
This continual processing
in my life.
It requires so much decision-making,
Good Will or Resale or give away.
I’ve concluded I don’t like seeing
myself come back at me,
I’ve left instructions that when I die
I don’t want my clothes going to people I know.

I have always had a monkish tendency
and don’t do well owning very many clothes
at any given time, just the few things
I am currently loyal to.
And the ones I’ll always remember
that were pivotal to my
development as a human being,
as a woman.